Uncommon Practice Program Notes
Flex!, Phillip Sink
“I composed a set of short movements [for mixed woodwind and string septet] using words that contain either the Latin root flex or flect, which mean “to bend.” The first movement “Genuflect Before Thee” pits the strings against the rest of the group. Each side rudely interrupts the other until someone in the ensemble decides to give in. “Thanks for Being Flexible” is a thank-you note to the strings for being so flexible with pitch. The strings carry the movement by gliding to each pitch within the harmony while the other instruments play melodic fragments and textural goodies. The third movement “Deflected Attempts” is inspired by the myriad of YouTube videos of cats knocking objects off tables. I composed the movement with a series of rising gestures that continuously get knocked down. The final movement “Upward Inflection?” is dedicated to all of the late-teens, early-20-somethings, and Californians who consistently speak with an upward inflection at the end of declarative sentences…?”
Choros No. 2, Heitor Villa Lobos
Choros No. 2 is one of a set of 14 Brazilian laments by Villa-Lobos. Brazilian laments are characterized by dance-like rhythms, improvisation, and contracanto, a dissonant type of counterpoint. This genre was influenced by African and European music, and was originally performed by Brazilian street musicians. Choros No. 2 is written for Flute and A Clarinet and presents a violent yet playful discussion between voices.
Broadloom, Kala Pierson
Broadloom is an organic/free texture-building piece. Once performers choose a role to perform and read the simple instructions, they can focus on listening to one another rather than looking at a printed page. For pro musicians, it’s a rich, flexible meditation; for developing musicians, it’s an excellent piece for building listening skills, rhythmic/pulse solidity, and ensemble cohesion.
Three Fauzmanian Dances, Warren Gooch
“The THREE FAUXMANIAN DANCES were written for my sister on her fiftieth (um… 29th) birthday. A fine amateur violinist, she was looking for something new that she and a cellist friend could play. As my sister and I have always been fond of Slavic music, I took that as a point of departure. Consequently the “flavor” (but not the substance) of these three dances is vaguely East European. These pieces were composed in June of 2006 and received their premiere at the Truman State University New Music Festival in fall of 2007.”
Pocket Symphony, Frederic Rzewski
Pocket Symphony was written for Eighth Blackbird. In six brief movements, it runs the stylistic gamut from easy lyricism and tonal, dance-like movement, to an enigmatic conclusion making all sorts of “modern” sounds. There’s even a touch of Jew’s harp, à la George Crumb. For the record, the piece is scored for flutes, clarinets, violin, cello, percussion, and piano, and the range of color that Rzewski finds in this theoretically restrictive format really is amazing.
Uncommon Practice Composer Biographies
Phillip Sink was born in 1982 in High Point, North Carolina. In 2004, he received bachelor’s degrees in music composition/theory and music education from Appalachian State University. In 2012, he earned master’s degrees in music composition and music theory pedagogy from Michigan State University where he served as a graduate assistant in music theory. Phillip is currently a doctoral fellow at the Jacobs School of Music where he is pursuing a doctoral degree (DM) in music composition with minors in electronic music and music theory.
Despite receiving very little formal musical training, Heitor Villa-Lobos became proficient on multiple instruments, including cello, guitar, and clarinet. He began his composition career by improvising on guitar and exploring indigenous Brazilian music. He incorporates Brazilian motives and rhythms with European compositional techniques. His most famous compositions include the Bachianas Brasileiras and Choros for chamber orchestras and/or wind instruments.
A native of Duluth, Minnesota, Warren Gooch served as the coordinator of the Theory-Composition Area at Truman State University, where he has twice been a finalist for the university’s “Educator of the Year” award. Warren Gooch began composing as soon as he was old enough to reach the keys on the family piano. To the initial chagrin of his parents, at first he devoted more time to “making up” pieces at the piano than he did practicing his formal music lessons. However, this interest in composition led to over a dozen awards in competitions for young composers. Gooch received his Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, his Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota (Duluth), and his Bachelor’s degree from the College of St. Scholastica. This broad background has informed Gooch’s own diverse and eclectic style. Gooch’s work as music theorist has been recognized by the College Music Society, and Gooch has authored a manual in the Benward “Music in Theory and Practice” series, published by McGraw-Hill. He is also involved with sacred music, and his composition catalog includes a number of sacred choral and instrumental works.
Frederic Rzewski is an American composer, now resident in Belgium, of mostly chamber, vocal and piano works that have been performed throughout the world; he is also active as a pianist. As a pianist, he frequently performed with the flautist Severino Gazzelloni in the 1960s. He then co-founded the improvisational and live electronic ensemble Musica Elettronica Viva in Rome in 1966 and performed with it from 1966–71. Since then, he has been active as a pianist, primarily in performances of his own pieces and music by other contemporary composers. He taught at the Conservatoire royal de musique in Liège where he was Professeur de Composition. He has given lectures in Germany, the Netherlands and the USA.